Major league sporting events are well-known to draw big crowds: we’ve all seen them lined up outside the Super Bowl or the MBA finals. It’s the exhilaration and excitement in the air that makes watching these amazing events live so thrilling: you can’t feel the tension through the TV screen.
For fans of live sports, who love the rush of seeing their team assemble at the starting line or get into position ready to score a winning point, it may seem odd that just as many people are watching eSports events.
Essentially, these tournaments consist of people playing video games, which are streamed to a crowd of online fans. Without the visceral reality of physical sports, it might be hard to understand the thrill.
Still, as those of us who love gaming will attest, eSports can be just as exciting as physical competitions. With over 540 million viewers worldwide and rising, eSports is a rapidly growing market, and one with many popular tournaments and contests.
Many of these tournaments are streamed digitally, so you can watch them wherever you are. If you want to enjoy the thrill of seeing live sports, eSports has you covered, as there are also in-person player events. At these gatherings, you can watch gamers play on big screens and see their thought processes in real time.
Whether you’re a potential player or viewer, these are some of the most popular eSports events held globally. By checking out these tournaments, you can dip your toes in and start immersing yourself in this exciting spectator sport that will dominate future sporting calendars.
The Free Fire World Series
Every year, Garena’s Free Fire hosts a final competition known as the Free Fire World Series. The last game of the year, it’s played by the best teams from the yearly round-robin tournament and is a hotly contested battle.
Players love to watch this popular mobile game, which includes voices and likenesses from famed actors, including Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley and Brie Larson, almost as much as they love to play it. The Free Fire World Series is also popular with those who enjoy sports betting online, meaning folks who love to try and guess the winning team in this fast-paced tournament.
The grand final spans 12 teams, playing in 18 different matches across a three-day run. So it’s a major commitment for players and spectators of this exhilarating battle royale game alike, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
The League of Legends World Championship
Another team-based battle game that draws a crowd is League of Legends, which hosts an annual World Championship that has to be seen to be believed. With its Warcraft inspiration, the game is easy to follow if you’re already a fan of Warcraft, or a regular gamer.
If you’re new to the gaming scene, then it can be tough to grasp the full concept, but there are still great graphics and exciting battle scenes to keep you entertained. The championship consists of multiple teams and can go on for months, so it’s something you have to dedicate a lot of time and energy to if you want to get the most out of it. Still, it’s definitely worth the effort to see who wins in this enticing battle.
The Valorant Champions Tour
An in-person tour that takes place around the world and features only the best gamers, the Valorant Champions Tour is a thrilling race to get to the end and compete as part of the Champions League. Originally, there were three stages: Challengers, Masters, and Champions, and the aim was to ascend to the final stage and win the tournament.
A new version launched in 2023, with three regions replacing the former 7, and teams playing an International League instead of a Challengers stage, which has spiced things up and made the tour easier to watch.
As the game is a first-person shooting experience, it’s easy to feel like you’re watching a war unfold as you witness players traverse the dystopian future world that is the setting for Valorant. Each stage leads towards the final annual Champions event, which is usually hosted in person and also streamed live around the world, so everyone can watch the thrilling conclusion of this incredible tour.
The Intel Extreme Masters
Finally, the biggest and longest-running global eSports tournament is the Extreme Masters, which is run by the world-renowned computer tech giant Intel.
Initially launched in 2006 by the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the tournament has since taken off, and is now hosted annually, with events taking place around the world, with events hosted in major cities including Cologne, Sydney and Shanghai.
The final, which has the biggest prize pool, takes place in Katowice in Poland. The tournament involves a range of games, and these have changed over the years and now include some of the most popular battle and shooting games around.
Titles that were played in the 2023 tournament include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II, Warcraft and League of Legends, among many others.
Each game is played as part of a season, which leads directly to the final tournament in Poland, where teams from the three regions have the chance to go head-to-head for a cash prize and the ultimate glory that comes with winning this prestigious competition.